Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Five Seconds That Were Just Packed

I caught a late train into the city today. Penn Station was quiet as I got on the short escalator to exit the track area. Just in front of me, several commuters balked at the bottom of the escalator and stepped quickly to the side. I pushed ahead of them and saw that a man in his 60s had fallen backwards and was laying on his back on the escalator steps, and sliding down and bumping his head, with his wife two steps up, shrieking. I had actually encountered a similar situation a few years ago, when a woman tourist had fallen back over her luggage, and thought that, as I did back then, I would pull his shoulders up and forward and he'd get his legs under him and stand. I knelt down and put my arms under his shoulder blades to assist him up. Suddenly his eyes rolled back in his head, and he went fully limp in my arms. I thought he had just died. His wife was shouting for help while I was shouting at her to run up and hit the emergency off switch, but thinking it may not matter. Believing that I had two seconds to save a corpse from desecration, I broke every back safety rule for lifting, uhh, dead weight, pulled him nearly upright, and prayed I could somehow get his feet off the ground as they passed the exit step. As we were a step from the top, the escalator stopped abruptly, and my shoulder bumped into his head, jarring him awake. The now risen man walked off the escalator, as I supported him until I could prop him against a wall. A railroad worker came up the escalator with my bag, followed by four cops who grabbed onto the no-longer-recently-departed. I picked up my bag and walked to the office, with a seriously strained lower back and fervently hoping that these would be the most excitement-packed five seconds of the day.


RB said...

Maybe he WAS dead and your shoulder brought him back to life. Don't sell yourself short.

Mark Moran said...

Rachel, here are the top two reasons I wish you had been there instead of me: (i) because then your back would hurt today, and not mine, and (ii) the blog post about it would have been a lot better.